YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – President Donald Trump has been driving home the message that he wants to make a big commitment to improving infrastructure in the United States. He reiterated that goal during an address to Congress Tuesday night.
Trump’s plan calls for a $1 trillion investment that promises to create jobs, boost the economy and repair and replace roads and bridges.
According to a CBS News report, one idea to fund that kind of money is for the government to allocate $137 billion in tax credits for private investors who underwrite infrastructure projects. It’s estimated that over 10 years the credits could spur $1 trillion in investment. President Trump has not said if he will carry out this path to that $1 trillion mark.
Millions of those dollars are needed for much-needed projects in the Mahoning and Shenango valleys alone, so is the President’s budget large enough?
Mark Miller with the Mercer County Bridge Department said his department has $110 million worth of infrastructure work to do, which is a minute amount compared with a federal expenditure of $1 trillion.
“Mercer County, our bridges are in better shape than the surrounding counties,” Miller said.
But the public works faces bigger problems beyond cost. Often the initial reports and studies can cost more time and money than the actual bridges themselves. On a typical small project of $300,000, Miller says it’s easy to double that cost before the first day of construction.
“Those are reports and studies that have to be approved and reviewed by a number of agencies. Each one adds to the cost of the project,” Miller said.
Charles Shasho with Youngstown Public Works said the costs are even higher within the city. His budget is about $19 to $20 million per year and the cost of projects are anywhere from $140 million to $150 million.
Shasho says the $1 trillion in the federal budget is a good place to start. The city has seen a big increase in the cost of rebuilding but that hasn’t been matched by revenue. He said he would rather see a long-term investment to help with costs.
Both Shasho and Miller agree that a federal focus on infrastructure has been long overdue.